PEN Presents: Kali Fajardo-Anstine and Leila Mottley

Ballroom 2 & 3, Summit Building, Seattle Convention Center, Level 5
Friday, March 10, 2023
10:35 am to 11:50 am


Join us for a conversation featuring American Book Award-winner Kali Fajardo-Anstine and Booker Prize-nominee Leila Mottley, moderated by Clarisse Rosaz Shariyf, PEN America’s chief program officer of Literary Programming. In their debut novels, Fajardo-Anstine’s Woman of Light and Mottley’s Nightcrawling, both authors center the experience of teenage girls and womanhood while weaving complex and multifaceted stories of survival, testimony, and triumph. Together they will discuss writing about the communities they love and the people they call home, and characters navigating lives shaped by love, personal loss, and small joys. This event will be livestreamed. ASL interpretation and live captioning will be provided.



Clarisse Rosaz Shariyf joined PEN America in 2015 and currently serves as the chief program officer of Literary Programming. She oversees curation, production, audience building, and strategy for a range of programs and initiatives honoring literary excellence, lifting writers whose voices need to be heard, and curating public programs featuring American and international authors and artists. Formerly, as the manager of public programs at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, The New York Public Library, she produced a year-round schedule of panel discussions, performances, film screening, and symposia spanning the history and culture of the global Black experience. She holds an MA in Social Sciences from the University of Chicago and an MA in English Civilization from the University of the French West Indies.

Kali Fajardo-Anstine is the nationally bestselling author of the novel Woman of Light (One World, 2022) and the widely acclaimed short story collection Sabrina & Corina (One World, 2019). Her work has been nominated for the National Book Award, the PEN/Bingham Prize, the Clark Prize, the Story Prize, the Saroyan International Prize, and the Joyce Carol Oates Prize. Fajardo-Anstine is the winner of a 2020 American Book Award and is the 2021 recipient of the Addison M. Metcalf Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. She is the 2022-2024 Endowed Chair in Creative Writing at Texas State University. Fajardo-Anstine was born in Denver, Colorado and is the second eldest of seven siblings. She dropped out of high school weeks into her senior year, earning her GED and going on to graduate with a BA in English and Minor in Chicana/o Studies from Metropolitan State University of Denver. She holds an MFA from the University of Wyoming and worked for over a decade as an independent bookseller at West Side Books in North Denver.

Leila Mottley is the author of the novel Nightcrawling, an Oprah’s Book Club Pick and New York Times best seller. She is also the 2018 Oakland Youth Poet Laureate. She was born and raised in Oakland, where she continues to live.


February 7–10, 2024
Kansas City, Missouri

Kansas City Convention Center